Tue, Jan 13, 2009 - Page 12 News List

More than 46% of workers have taken unpaid leave: poll

By Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

With no sign of a break in the global economic downturn, an online poll found that 46.7 percent of Taiwanese employees had taken unpaid leave at some point since October and seen an average NT$16,438 (US$494.6), or 30 percent deduction in their monthly income.

More than 60 percent of workers in the nation’s information technology (IT) and manufacturing industries reported taking unpaid leave, the online human resource agency 1111 Job Bank’s (1111人力銀行) survey found.

It said 46.7 percent of respondents took days off when their companies asked them to, while 21.4 percent took more than three days off per week and 16.6 percent took more than 10 days off per month.

“We estimate that more than 250,000 people have taken unpaid leave between October and now and the number is increasing every day,” 1111 Job Bank chief operating officer and spokesman Ryan Wu (吳睿穎) said at a media briefing yesterday.

The latest figures from the Council of Labor Affairs showed that 18 percent of companies with more than 200 workers asked employees to take unpaid leave last month and that 202,000 workers were affected.

“More than 80 percent of respondents said they felt depressed during their unpaid vacation days and 3.81 percent said they had considered committing suicide, which shows the signs of a worsening crisis,” Wu said.

Around 21 percent of respondents expected their company to stop asking workers to take unpaid leave at the end of March, while 37 percent said they did not know when the policy would end.

Wu said unpaid leave caused workers to feel uncertain about their future and lose confidence in their company.

“Although unpaid leave is a flexible way to help businesses ride out the economic downturn, unfortunately, some businesses are using the practice to avoid their obligation to pay severance pay,” Wu said.

“These workers, who are categorized in the low-wage group, may be living under much worse conditions than those who receive unemployment compensation and the government needs to address this problem,” he said.

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